Friday, February 28, 2014

Hosea 6:3 “Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord; his appearing is a sure as the dawn, he will come to us like the showers, like the spring rains that water the earth.”

Sometimes it is tempting to give up.
I hear the words “I can’t” almost daily and I have had more than one conversation with my kids about not giving up.
Just because something is hard or challenging does not mean we throw in the towel and quit, right?  If that were the case I never would have learned to ride a bike or drive a car.  I never would have learned how to ski or even read a book.
Reading this passage in Hosea could easily cause anyone to just give up.  God is angry and hurt at the unfaithfulness of Israel and Hosea is called to show Israel what that looks like and tell them about it as well.  Throughout the book of Hosea there are passages telling of God’s anger and there are passage telling of God’s mercy and love.  He never gives up on Israel; He keeps on loving them, correcting them, teaching and forgiving them. 
He does the same for us.
When I look at my days in review I see times of rebellion, times of blindness and times of humility and love.  I am no different than Israel in my spiritual journey.
God does not give up on us.  He teaches us through his steadfast love to continue striving forward, try again, start over and keep pressing on.  I press on to know the Lord, knowing he is sure and true like the spring rains that water the earth.


When I come to you in humility and truth you are there.  You bring showers of love and mercy, healing and guidance.  Thank you for your unending mercy and love.  Thank you for teaching each of us how to press on and for inspiring our hearts to press on to know you more and more.  Help me honor and love you in truth today.  Amen.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.”

The kids like to toss rocks into the river when we stop in Glenwood Canyon on our drives to the western slope of Colorado.
We always stop at the same rest area in the canyon because there is good access to the Colorado River and the kids like to pick up rocks of different sizes and toss them into the river.  They like to see how far they can throw them and how big a splash the rock will make.
Once the rocks are thrown, they sail through the air for a moment and they sink into the river never to be seen by us again.
Wouldn't it be great if we could toss our worries and anxieties into the river like those rocks?  How far can we throw them and how big a splash will they make when they fall into the deep flowing waters?
This simple verse reminds us that we can.  Peter calls us to toss or cast our anxieties away, onto Jesus, onto God and leave them never to be seen by us again.  Our Lord waits with open arms, with deep flowing love to accept as many worries and anxieties as we have because he cares for us; He loves us beyond measure.
The Colorado River does not care how many rocks my kids and the thousands of other kids throw into it, the river can handle it without a problem.  God willingly accepts however many anxieties we throw or cast to him, he can handle whatever we throw his way, no problem.  Let go and walk into this day feeling lighter and freer.

We cast our anxieties to you only to wade back into the stream and seek out our rocks again.  Gently remind us that you hold them for us and we no longer need them, you will carry them without a problem.  Open our hands to receive the mercy and love you have for us, replace anxiety with peace, fear with hope, sadness with joy.  I ask these blessings on each of us and pray we will share these things with those around us today.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Revelation 19:12 “... and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed that no one knows but himself”

Throughout the night I was awakened and the song “Crown Him with Many Crowns” was going through my head each time.
When I finally got up to stay, I looked up the song to find out what scripture, if any, the song was based on.  I was led to this verse in the book of Revelation.  I almost closed the bible and started all over again but I needed to write my thoughts on this.
What are the many diadems or crowns that he wears?  Are they the different titles he holds or crowns from many people, many nations, the Universe and all that is in it?  It is not clear to me in this passage of scripture what these crowns represent.  The song lyrics describe the different titles that Jesus holds; Lord of love, Lord of life, Lord of heaven...
Whatever the crowns stand for I am sure of one thing.  He is my King and I believe he is the one true King of all.  Whenever I face eternity and I come to the throne in all my spirit, I will gaze upon my King with many crowns and I know I will be received as a beloved daughter.  This alone is enough to make my heart sing.  I gladly give him my crown; I only have it because he gave it to me through his grace and mercy, his death and resurrection.
Today, my heart sings the old hymn Crown Him with Many Crowns and I go into this day striving to honor him in every way as my King and Lord.

There is so much mystery that surrounds you.  I read scripture to learn what you taught when you came to earth but even in your teachings you tell us there is much we are not ready to learn yet.  I long for the day I can learn more in your presence.  Until then, I praise and honor you for all you have done for us.  Thank you for teaching us and for redeeming us for eternity with you.  Amen.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Acts 2:42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

Recently I have realized that our Sundays are filled with “church” stuff.
We go to church in the morning for Sunday school and worship.  We stay after church for kid’s choir and fellowship with friends.  We are home for a few hours and then the kids are off to a Christian kids club for a couple of hours, getting home just in time for dinner and down time before bed.
The kids don’t really play with their neighborhood friends much on Sunday, there just is not much time.  One of my daughter’s friends must watch diligently because we are rarely out of the car from church before she is over ready to play for the short time available.
I could change this if I wanted to.  I have thought about it but I really do not see anything wrong with it. 
I feel it is important for my family, my kids to build relationships with Christian kids.  I know it is important for me to fellowship with Christian friends.  It is important for us all to take time to hear what message the preacher might deliver that speaks to our heart.  It is a blessing to sing and pray in community.
I know many people who do not go to church, believers and unbelievers.  They say they do not have time or do not find any value in it.  I know for me, I would struggle to stay deep in the Lord without that regular community faith gathering.  I will continue to devoted myself to teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayers; I hope you will join me.

Thank you for the freedom to gather as we will in this country.  I pray for those people who must hide their worship gatherings or simply cannot gather.  I pray for those who choose not to gather together in faith community.  You know our needs, open our minds and hearts to hear, listen and follow you wherever you lead.  Amen.

Monday, February 24, 2014

2 Timothy 3:14 “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it,”

Some days I feel as dense as a brick.
I have gone to church and learned about God through his word and teachers of his word since I was a tot.  Why can’t I get this right, why isn't it easy yet?
Yesterday I heard someone lamenting the state of the world we live in and how we, as humans, have not stepped up to the call to care for the earth and each other like we should.  I have been in these same throes of frustration many times in the past.  Scripture reminds us that these frustrations will not cease and will increase as the end time draws closer.  It gets tiring.
We are encouraged in this portion of the letter to Timothy to keep on keeping on.  “Continue in what we have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you have learned it.”  Who have I learned my beliefs from?
I must proclaim I only truly learned through the Holy Spirit.  I am not a good student of human teaching, it is only when I allow the Spirit to guide my studies and open my heart that I have been able to truly learn and believe.  I have had wonderful mentors in my life and God has used them to teach me, encourage me, correct me and challenge me.  It is through God and his work with me that I can follow the words in this verse.  I will continue learning and following knowing from whom I learn and who I follow.

Thank you for these encouraging words.  Scripture is filled with teachings, lessons, encouragement, and correction.  Studying these words will fill a lifetime.  Thank you for mentors to guide us on this path of discipleship.  Please protect us from any false teachings that may distract and keep us firmly in our faith, always true to you.  I ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  Amen.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Psalm 119:59-60 “When I think of your ways, I turn my feet to your decrees; I hurry and do not delay to keep your commandments.”

Me, me, me, I, I, I.
These words are spoken so much in this world, this country and this home.  We are, so often, all about ourselves.  When I read this passage in Psalms I could not get beyond these verses; they kept calling my attention back.
The other day my husband left early for work and didn't say goodbye when he walked out the door.  I jumped into wondering what I had done or not done to make him upset.  Why didn't he say goodbye to me?  Once I got over my self-pity party, I realize he was focused on all he had to get done and not on slighting me.  I picked up the phone and left him a message of kindness to start his day when he got to work.
As soon as I turned my thoughts away from myself I was able to see God’s ways again.  Love God, love your neighbor.  There is nothing in God’s ways that teaches us to love ourselves; to put our needs first and then think of others.  I am ashamed at how often I am thinking of myself before I think of others.
I have a task I need to do: I need to make a schedule for the day.  My days are getting away from me and I am not getting everything done I would like to or need to.  In light of these verses when I make my schedule I will write it from the view of loving God and loving others.  Then I pray I will turn my feet to God’s decrees.  I hope I will hurry and not delay to keep God’s commandments.

I say I do all things for you, help me keep my word.  I do love you but I do not show that I love you when I am thinking of myself.  I say I love others, but I do not show my love for others when I am thinking of myself.  Focus my thinking onto your ways and your decrees so I will not delay in turning and following you.  Amen.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Matthew 12:30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”

Whose team are you on?
I remember growing up and playing team games.  I was short and kind of small, not very athletic so I was always one of the last kids to get picked for a team.  Even though I wasn't a good athlete I still wanted to be on the good team, no one likes to lose, right?
Do you remember the game Red Rover?  There are two lines of people facing each other and the people in each line link together by holding hands.  Then the lines take turns calling someone over from the other line to run and try to break through their line.  Of course they call the weakest ones first so they can hold their line.  In this game you are either on one team or the other. There is no one standing in the middle, there is no neutral territory in this game.
This is what I hear Jesus saying in this passage.  There is no neutral territory in the spiritual realm.  You must choose a team and if you do not choose, you will be chosen by default.  If you do not choose Jesus you have chosen to be on the opposite team.  If you are not with him, you are against him.
These are strong words to swallow.  I have friends that I know do not claim Jesus and it saddens me to know that because of this they are against him.  They do not serve him so they unknowingly serve darkness.  I pray for my friends daily and so many others that are unaware of where they stand.  I go into this day knowing I may be the only Jesus they will ever see.

Let the words of my mouth and the actions of my hands speak of you.  Keep me from falling into worldly traps or leading others away from you, I do not want to scatter.  Guide me in your ways so I can be one to help gather.  I choose to be with you; help me be a light for others to come to be with you as well.  Amen.

Friday, February 21, 2014

2 Corinthians 5:17-18 “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away, see, everything has become new!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.”

Completeness or shards?  Pieces or whole?
My kids like to eat graham crackers.  I like graham crackers because they are easy to break into pieces and I can give them just a part of one instead of a whole big one.  Sometimes my little boy gets upset with me for breaking it into pieces.  He wants it whole.
I wonder how often we break things because it is easier or more convenient when working to leave it whole would have been better.  I think we all know easier is not necessarily better.
I remember once I was drying a glass bowl and it slipped from my hands, crashed to the floor and broke into several pieces.  There was nothing I could do but throw the broken pieces away and clean up the mess.  The bowl was not any good broken down.
Our lives are like this too.  We get battered and chipped and broken down, we batter, chip and break down others along the way.  These verses in Paul’s letter bring healing and hope to us all.  Through Christ we are made new.  God takes what was battered, chipped and broken and lovingly makes a new creation through his reconciliation given in Christ.
As I strive to embrace this promise of being a new creation in Christ and believing that the old has passed away, I am called to bring the reconciliation that I have received into the world.  Our world is most definitely battered, chipped and broken.

You created me again, anew.  The old is gone and I am new in you.  Help my doubt fade and my faith grow.  Give me what I need to be an agent of reconciliation in my home, my church and in your world.  I ask this through Christ who reconciled us all.  Amen.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Psalm 90:5 “Extol the Lord our God; worship at his footstool.  Holy is he!

I was surprised to see snow when I looked out the window, and not overly enthusiastic about it.
What have I been enthusiastic about lately?  Good question for me to ponder.  My nature is not one of exuberant energy and jumping for joy anyway but lately I seem tired and worn down more often than not.  I am tired of winter winds, tired of whining children, tired of being busy.
As I meditate on this verse to praise and worship God I am brought to humility once more.  Why has my focus turned back to me and my needs again?  The moment I start focusing on God all my weariness lessens and I am filled with an energy that only could come from God.  As I lift my voice and heart in praise and worship the weights that seemed to hold me down just moments ago have disappeared.
It is time to change my view again.  I need to lift my eyes from the daily grind and set them on higher sights.  I look to the Lord and remember all he has done for this world, his people; for me.  I come to his footstool in thanksgiving and humility.  I come to extol and worship this God of all, my Lord and King.  Holy is he, indeed, he is holy!

You give me a reason to be exuberant and enthusiastic.  Forgive me for losing sight of the grace and love, the energy and renewal you give me.  I lift my eyes, my heart and my voice in praise and worship to you this morning.  Open me up to receive whatever you have for me on this day.  Cleanse me of self-absorption and shortsightedness; cleanse me of all sins through the redemption of Christ so that as I approach the footstool of your throne I am shining like the sun.  Let my light shine for you, the Holy One.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Job 5:8-9 “As for me, I would seek God, and to God I would commit my cause.  He does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number.”

Words of encouragement can be hard to hear at times.
Job had lost everything precious to him and was in deep mourning, struggling to understand why this had happened.  I cannot fathom the pain and anguish that Job must have been experiencing.
Job is a hard story to read and embrace.  This righteous and upright man was struck down to the quick.  In today’s world we would log this story under the “bad things happen to good people” folder of stories.  Why do we go through terrible times?
Even as Job struggles with his calamity, his faith and hope, his will to go forward, God is there.  Job’s friends are there doing their best to help him through in their own way too.  What it all comes down to is Job working it out with God. 
This is still true for us today.  Whatever calamity may befall us, God is there with us.  Hopefully we also have family and friends that will do their best to help us through it too but it all comes down to us working things out with God.
None of us like to struggle; none of us enjoys suffering and mourning.  God uses even these things to bring us closer to him and strengthen our love for him and in him.  When we are at our lowest, who do we call on?  I come back to these verses in Job.  “As for me, I would seek God, and to God I would commit my cause...”
Only God can provide our true needs.

Thank you for these words of encouragement in a story filled with struggle.  Allow this to speak to our souls and encourage us today to remember you are with us always, in all things and in all times.  Keep us close to you heart so regardless of what we are going through we turn to you for our needs to be fulfilled.  All glory and honor are your Lord God, today and all days.  Amen.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Matthew 4:13-14 “Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty.  The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’”

Water is a most precious resource.
Here in Colorado we are limited to the amount of water we can use for our yards.  Water is rationed so we don’t run out.  I imagine the desert near Samaria was not plentiful in water either but they didn't try to grow gardens of grass where it wasn't meant to grow...
They have known for centuries how to work with the water they have.
Water runs deep in the desert and wells must be dug.  This well was deep and Jesus had no bucket with which to draw water.  The Samaritan woman asked where Jesus would get the water he was talking about, this living water.  She wanted some so she wouldn't have to come back to the well so often!
He told her about living water and John records the story so we can hear about living water too.  We will continue to have water restrictions for our lawn and try not to take too long of a shower but our souls can be quenched, soaking and splashing in the living water of Jesus.  I love the picture in my mind of a spring gushing up and all of us splashing, drinking, laughing and thoroughly enjoying the life we receive from this blessed water; this living water.
As we hydrate our bodies today, let us remember the living water we have been given for eternal life and rejoice in the Lord, our God!


Thank you for everlasting water, your spring of living water given to our souls.  Remind us to tap into it when we are feeling a little dry.  Thank you for the story in John that tells us that this living water is for all people who will receive it.  Fill our cups and our hearts with your life giving love and help us lead others to this blessing as well.  Amen.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Revelation 1:8 “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

This morning I am in complete awe.
When I read this verse I was struck with how unfathomable He truly is.  This God that I worship and sit in quiet with is the same God that created the world in six days.  This God that moves my heart and speaks to me is the same God that helped Moses perform great wonders in the presence of an Egyptian Pharaoh.
These thoughts are not new to me but today they are bigger and more real to me.  I say that He is timeless but when I meditate on that I cannot wrap my mind around it.  I say that He created and loves each of us but I am speechless with wonder when I realize what that really means.
The loving, gentle parent of my soul is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end and the in between.  Words escape me.
As the sun brightens in the sky and my boy wakes I am still grappling with the vastness of God.  I am struck again with how big and timeless he is and yet how personal and in the moment he is.
As I go into this day, I go in wonder and amazement, I go in quiet awe and I go in joy with the knowledge of Him in my heart and soul and love of Him filling me and surrounding me.
I pray you too, are filled and surrounded by the love of the Almighty, the Alpha and the Omega, the one who is, who was and who is to come.

I cling to the knowledge that you are now, you are here and you love us.  I cling to the memories of you working in me to remind me and confirm that you, the Almighty, are with me; with us all in this moment of time.  Thank you for the reminder of who you are.  Let us not lose sight of your power and might, or your love and mercy.  I lift my hands in praise to you, the Almighty.   Amen.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Hebrews 13:15-16 “Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.  Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”

Do words fly out of your mouth as quickly as they do mine sometimes?
I try to think about what I would say before I say it and usually avoid saying some hurtful things because I held my tongue.  I wish I could say I always do this but that would be untrue.
How can I say hurtful mean things to someone and use that same mouth to praise my God?  The book of James talks about this specifically and I wonder as I read this passage what kind of fruit comes from my lips?
I speak in love, and I speak in indifference.  I speak with disdain and I speak with praise.  I speak brashly and I speak eloquently.  I will strive to speak praises to my God continually so I bring blessings instead of curses.
Speaking blessings is only part of the sacrifices we are called to give in this passage.  As we continue in winter for a while longer I ask myself and I ask you, could we do more good and share what we have better?  I know I can.  I step into this day seeking the guidance of God in how he would have me do more good, give and share more.  I praise God for all he has shown me and all he has given me thus far and I praise God for what He continues to do.

Thank you for the morning sun that reminds us of a new day.  Help us put yesterday behind us and guide us into today.  Open our hearts and our eyes to see the blessings we have received and compel us to share what you have given us spiritually and physically so all people will experience the blessings of your love.  I ask these things through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you forever and ever.  Amen. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Psalm 146:1-2 “Praise the Lord!  Praise the Lord, O my soul!  I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long.”

There has been turbulence in my house lately.  The kids are disgruntled and bickering, I am short tempered and quick to frustration and anger.  This is not good.
We climbed into the car, despite my wishes to stay locked in my room feeling sorry for myself, to go to a Valentine’s Day party with our homeschooling friends.  I popped in a CD of songs about love to try and soothe my raw edges and emotions and calm my soul on the way.  I love music.
As we drove the half hour and I listened to music and prayed to God, peace came and love healed.  The kids and I were able to enjoy the time at the party and everyone had a good time.  Once I finally embraced the love and light of God, I was able to release the frustration and anger of the day. 
I cannot even say what I was angry over, does that make sense?
So I come to a place of humility at the foot of the throne.  I ask forgiveness for my human failures and know in the mercy and love of God, I receive the forgiveness I seek.  It is because of this love, this mercy and grace that I am able and compelled to praise the Lord.  This day my soul praises the Lord.  I lift my voice in praise and I hold hope for tomorrow and every day until the end of time.  Praise the Lord!

Thank you for the song in my soul, for I know you put it there.  Let the music of today continue to bring blessing to me and those around me.  I pray that our music will be in praise and honor to you God, for you give us the gift and desire to make music.  I give this day to you Lord.  All glory, honor and praise you to my King and Redeemer.  Amen.

Friday, February 14, 2014

1 John 4:7 “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”

Today we celebrate love...
Many people receive candy and cards, flowers and kisses on this holiday of love.  Many people do not receive anything.  Does this mean they have no love?
Kids have all filled out their little valentines for everyone in the class and will spend time passing them out and having a party to celebrate love in their schools.  It was a challenge for my daughter to write some for the kids she doesn't know or doesn't really like but a good lesson to learn.
I remember one school year when I was a child.  My “boyfriend” gave me a big heart shaped box of chocolates along with my little kid valentine.  He was teased relentlessly by the other boys and I remember the other girls in the class looking surprised and a little envious.  Who doesn't want to feel special and loved?
Who makes you feel special and loved?
Whether you have a sweetheart that makes your pulse beat a little quicker when you see them, or a dear friend or two that you could not imagine life without or family that is with you through thick and through thin, we all have love.  If you feel like you have no one that is a lie.  God loved each of us before time began, He loves each of us today and he continues to love us for eternity.
Go into today filled with love because love is from God and we are all loved by God.  Share his love with each other so all people can know God and his love.

You are my true valentine.  There is no one who loves me more and no one I love more.  Thank you for your steadfast and everlasting love that you give to anyone and everyone who will receive it.  On this day of hearts, help me be a beacon of love to those around me so that all people will experience your true love today.  Amen.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

1 Peter 4:7-8 “The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers.  Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.”

The message throughout the Bible, the message God sends to us in so many ways, never changes.  It is the message of Love.
When I pray, Love is there.  Times when I have been angry or hurt, prayer has healed and restored beyond my imagination.  Situations I thought were beyond hope were made whole through prayer.  God’s love is manifested through prayer.
Is there someone or something you are finding difficult?  I encourage you to take those things and those people to God in prayer.  As you lift those struggles in prayer each day, the Love of God transforms things.
There have been times I prayed for God to change someone else; I prayed fervently for that.  When I finally came to Him asking Him to change my view to match His, the results were astounding.  Prayer brings our hearts closer to God and closer to his will, it changes our view.
When we can see our world through His eyes of love, there is much beauty.  When we love one another it is easy to pray for one another.  When we pray for one another it is easier to love one another.  Let us into this day in prayer and love.

Pour your Divine Love into every crevasse of my soul and being. Bring to my heart the struggles that need to be lifted in prayer and love.  Open my eyes to see the healing you grant through love and prayer.  Above all, help me show my love for you and your love in me in all I do and say.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Psalm 105:1-2 “O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples.  Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wonderful works.”

What has God done for you lately?
This psalm retells the story of Israel from slavery into freedom.  It looks back on all the things God has done for Israel; all the ways he has been faithful to them throughout their time.
I have not written down my story yet.  When I think about it I cannot imagine wanting anyone else to know my story.  I have definitely taken the crooked and broken path to find the grace of God in my life.  Not just once have I fallen off the path, numerous times during my life so far.  Why would I want to retell that story?
As I read this chapter I realized that revisiting our story doesn't need to be about our failures and weakness, it could be remembering the strength and grace of God in our story.   This is the focus of the retelling of Israel’s story in this passage. 
When I first read it I thought it glossed over things and neglected the down and dirty but as I meditated on it I realized the purpose of this retelling was to glorify God, not to draw attention to Israel.  What if I revisited my story with the intention of seeing God in it rather than seeing me in it?  How would that change my perspective?
God is in each of our stories whether we recognize it or not.  He is always with us, everywhere we are and beyond us.  He may not have turned water to blood or sent a plague of locusts in our stories but he has done great things and performed might wonders none the less.  I think I need to revisit my story with new perspective.  I encourage you to join me and revisit yours as well.  I am certain we will all see the faithfulness of God in the midst of it and we will have many reasons to give thanks and sing praises to our God!

Give us the courage to step back into our stories just as the psalmist did in this passage.  Help us see you in the midst of whatever our stories hold because we know you were there, you still are and always will be.  Lord, protect us from the voices of regret and chastisement, surround us in your love so we are able to rejoice in your faithfulness rather that wallow in our past.  Amen.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Acts 3:19-20 “Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah appointed for you, that is, Jesus.”

How do you picture refreshment?
Is it a cool breeze on a warm sunny day or an ice cold drink on a hot summer day?  Is it warmth seeping into your cold bones on a blustery winter day or the smell of fresh flowers or the ocean?
Our sins are burdens to our souls.  We carry them around being weighed down by them and the heaviness gets to us more and more each day.
Luke reminds us to repent and turn to God, to lay our burdens and sins down at his feet so he can wipe them away, release the heaviness from us and bring refreshment to our souls.  When I read these words I can hardly keep from following his advice.  My sins distract me from God’s Love and his Light and pull me toward darkness and indifference. I don’t want that!
I turn to the Lord this morning.  I open my heart and my hands to empty them of the sins I carry.  Once they have been wiped out I wait for the presence of the Lord to come and refresh my soul.  There is no better feeling in the world.
This is a daily practice for me until that day that the Messiah, who is appointed for us, comes again and we will be refreshed forever.
As you go through your day and have moments of refreshment, a meal or a break from work; remember these verses and seek the refreshment of the Lord in those moments as well.

Thank you for the many ways we receive refreshment for our bodies.  Bring those moments of refreshment to us today, I pray.  When those blessings of refreshment come, help us remember to seek refreshment for our souls as well.  Search our hearts for any lurking sin we have forgotten or are unaware of.  Bring all those things to light so that we may repent and turn to you fully.  Open our hearts and souls to receive the blessing of your refreshing presence in our day and guide us to share that refreshing spirit with others.  Amen.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Isaiah 49:6 “he says, ‘It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.’”

Have you ever felt inundated with a message from God?
Last week I joined a new bible study on Jonah where the challenge was presented to our group: serve your community in a way that makes an impact.  Yesterday the sermon in church was about being the salt of the earth and this morning I turned to this passage in Isaiah.  Is there a theme here?
When I read this the first time through I thought this passage must be talking about Jesus.  It makes perfect sense in that context and he is the salvation of the whole earth.  When I read the commentary at the bottom it mentioned that this passage was likely written to the nation Israel and the person Israel.
Oh dear.  That puts this passage in a whole new context for me.  If Israel the nation can be the light to the world and if the person Israel can be a light to the nations, so can I.  Thus, another bell goes off in my heart that listens for the voice of God.
As I prepare my first book for publication it is easy for me to pat myself on the back and say “I am doing this” as I sit down and sip my warm cup of coffee.  Then conviction comes in and puts it clearly before me that we are not called to do it once and be done.  This is a continual process.
The light shines for eternity, the salt continues to flow and season the hearts of the world and we are called to continue to serve in these ways until his salvation reaches to the end of the earth.  I must get up, finish my coffee and get ready for the day.  I must find a way to be the light and the salt to each person I touch today and again tomorrow.  I want to be who God commissions us to be, will you join me?

This task seems overwhelming when I think about it.  Help me see it through your eyes and know that I do not do anything alone; you are with me as are many others.  Give me courage so I do not shy away from whatever you lead me to but that I step forth in faith and trust in you.  Help us each be your salt and your light.  Amen.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Deuteronomy 6:12-14 “take care that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  The Lord your God you shall fear; him you shall serve, and by his name alone you shall swear.  Do not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who are all around you,”
As I was reading this passage, I could barely put my bible down; these words are so powerful.
On the surface I could easily brush these off; I have never been to Egypt and I am not an Israelite so how can these words to them speak to me?  Let me tell you – they speak to me; they speak to all of us.
Regardless of where we live and who we were brought up by we have been rescued from Egypt and we are sons and daughters of the one true God.  Our Egypt may not be a physical world of slavery but a spiritual one.  Our upbringing may have included the gospels and learning about Jesus, the Messiah.  It is through this path I have been brought to freedom.
The Lord seeks to bring each of us out of the bonds of slavery and into his promised land; his kingdom of life and love.  When we follow him and only him, we are free.
My daughter and I just finished a novel last night were one of the main characters was being tempted to turn away from the instructions he had received on his quest.  The temptation was sweet.  It was thoughtful and heart wrenching.  This is how temptation works. It is rarely harsh and brash or we would be put off.  It draws us in with stealth and before we are aware we are following some other god.  Do not follow but stay with the Lord our God; take care and do not forget the Lord.

Our world is filled with distractions and desire; it is filled with other gods.  There are all kinds of things and people we could easily worship they are in our faces every day through media and through our own weakness.  I pray these words will be written in our hearts and that we will never forget you, that we will remember the freedom you brought each of us and that we will always choose to follow you, the one true God, the one true Love and true Light of all.  Amen.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Ephesians 1:22-23 “And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

Have you ever been part of a team?  Christ’s church is like a team; it is one unit with many parts that come together for the good of the whole.
I belong to a handbell ensemble.  There are 13 of us that ring together with one instrument.  We are each assigned notes from the 5 octaves of notes available; the bells are set up like a piano keyboard.  I am not in charge of playing the whole song by myself so I must watch and wait for my part to come along in the music and do my part in time as well as I am able.  We practice our parts and we practice as a group.  Without someone directing or leading us the music would be harder to make.  The director guides us and teaches us.  He corrects us and encourages us to do more with our parts and more as a group.
This is one analogy to the body of Christ.  He directs us and leads us, he guides us and teaches us.  As he corrects and encourages us we do more with our parts and more as a group.  Without him, our service would be harder to do; much less effective.
You could look at almost any type of team and draw an analogy to the body of Christ.  Choirs, soccer teams, project teams, can you see the analogy?
Just remember, the team cannot work as effectively without a good leader and neither can the body of Christ work effectively without Christ leading.

Thank you for being our all in all, thank you for giving us whatever we need to serve in your body.  Help us remember our part and that we are not the leader or the head, you are.  Encourage us to practice with you and with other so we are able to do our part when the time comes.  Guide us to serve well in your body.  Amen.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Mark 6:3 “’Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?’  And they took offense at him.”

I like to say there is no place like home and I still hold that in my heart. Jesus may have felt that too but in a different way.
He came back to Nazareth during his ministry to preach and heal the sick in his home town.  The people did not receive it well.
They could not move past what they already knew of him.  He was a carpenter’s son, raised from childhood in the trade of his father.  He had played with their kids, studied with them, grown up with them.
I wonder how this feels.  I have not experienced this personally but I can imagine to some degree how it might be for someone who has a different life path than they seemed to start on.  I think of Mother Teresa, for instance.  She was a child, grew up learning and playing with other kids and then her life changed and she became a huge force of love in the world.
Did her childhood playmates receive her the same way or listen to her wisdom with open ears?  Could they receive her message clearly or did their previous experiences with her cloud their sight?
Jesus moved on to different places with his disciples.  His message would be received and his ministry grew despite his home town scoffers.  I, for one, am glad he continued on in his ministry.  I am glad the home town doubts did not muffle his love and grace for all.  I am so glad he continued on for you and for me.

Thank you for the life and ministry of Jesus.  Forgive us when we do not allow or embrace the growth and changes in our own lives and the lives of our loved ones.  We seek it but we do not believe it.  Let this story live in our hearts so we might receive all people through the love and grace that Jesus brings to us.  Amen.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Jonah 1:1-2 “Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai, saying, ‘Go at once to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before me.’”

I know what my first reaction would be if I were in Jonah’s shoes (or sandals, as the case may be.)
My response would be disbelief.  I would shake it off knowing I must have heard wrong and then go back to whatever I was doing.  I also know enough to know the Lord does not quit.  Even if I try to shake off a direction from the Lord, He will pursue me again, just as he did Jonah.
couldn't help reading the first few verses of Jonah this morning because the Thursday morning bible study I attend is beginning a study on Jonah.  I love gaining different perspective on scripture from the other women that participate and I love to study the word more deeply than I would otherwise.
The first section of Jonah is subtitled Jonah Tries to Run Away from God.  I snicker and scoff at Jonah but then I realize I have tried to run away from God many times in my life as well and I have not even been given a task like Jonah was!  It would be the equivalent of God saying to me “Go immediately to Las Vegas, that great city...”  Can you imagine?  Me either.
I am led to wonder, what is God calling me to do?  Very rarely have I felt I am called to sit and relax, sip my tea or coffee and enjoy a vacation from the work of his kingdom.  Hmm. Where will he lead us next?

Forgive my trepidation when I think of serving you in hard times.  You give us what we need to serve you every time in all ways so I come back to the throne in humility.  Give me the courage to do whatever you ask of me and the faith to know you go with me, I do not go alone.  I am yours, use me as you will.  Amen.